Borderland

Identity and belonging at the edge of England

Author: Phil Hubbard

In 2020 the convergence of Brexit, COVID-19 and the ‘migrant crisis’ put Kent in the headlines as never before: images of refugees on beaches, lorries queued on the county’s motorways and the white cliffs of Dover crumbling into the sea were all used to support claims that severing ties with the EU was the best – or worst – thing the UK had ever done. In this coastal driftwork, Phil Hubbard considers the past, present and future of this corner of England, alighting on the key sites which symbolise the changing relationship between the UK and its continental neighbours. Moving from the geopolitics of the Channel Tunnel to the cultivation of oysters at Whitstable, from Derek Jarman’s celebrated garden at Dungeness to the art-fuelled gentrification of Margate, Borderland bridges geography, history and cultural studies to show how ideas of national identity and belonging take shape at the coast. In doing so, the author argues that the ongoing crises of global displacement, climate change and ecological disaster require an expansive geographical imagination, with the current fixation on the sovereignty of our national borders appearing increasingly futile at a time of rapid global change.

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